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4 warning signs given before Richneck Elem. teacher shot by student: Lawyer

By Heather Eckstine,


Abby Zwerner's lawyer, Diane Toscano, gave a public statement for the first time since Zwerner was shot on Jan. 6 by her 6-year-old student.

In that press conference, Toscano lays out a timeline of the day, detailing four separate incidents that led teachers, including Zwerner, to speak to administration about the 6-year-old. Three of those four incidents included telling administration they believed the child had a gun.

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Toscano has announced she will be filing a lawsuit against Newport News Public Schools on Zwerner's behalf.

Toscano says the administration at Richneck Elementary School was approached by multiple teachers on the day of the shooting concerning the 6-year-old boy that shot Zwerner.

Lawyer of Richneck Elem. teacher shot by 6-year-old student to file lawsuit on her behalf

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According to Toscano, four separate teachers, including Zwerner, went to the administration about the boy's behavior and concerns that he had a gun and administration failed to act.

The scene outside Richneck Elementary School in Newport News Friday afternoon, Jan. 6 following a shooting where a female teacher was injured. (Lydia Johnson/WTKR)

Around 11:15 a.m. on Jan. 6, Toscano says Zwerner went to the administration to tell them that the 6-year-old, that would later shoot her, had threatened to "beat up" another student.

Toscano says the administration did not call security or remove the boy from the classroom.

Richneck Elementary School in Newport News

Around 12:30 p.m., Toscano says another teacher went to the administration to tell them she searched the boys bookbag because she suspected him of having a gun. Toscano says the teacher told the administration that she believed the boy put the gun in his pocket before recess and the administration's response was "he has little pockets."

The scene outside Richneck Elementary School in Newport News Friday afternoon, Jan. 6 following a shooting where a female teacher was injured.

Shortly after 1 p.m., a third teacher at Richneck approached the administration about another student crying. That student told the teacher that the 6-year-old had showed him a gun and threatened to shoot him if he told anyone, according to Toscano.

Toscano says after this third report the administration still failed to call police, lock down the school, evacuate the building or confront the student.


Then a fourth employee asked administration if he could search the 6-year-old, according to Toscano. The administration "denied his request and was told to wait it out because the school day was almost over," says Toscano.

Almost an hour later, Abby Zwerner was shot by that same 6-year-old in front of her first grade class.

"Were they not so paralyzed by apathy they could have prevented this tragedy ," said Toscano during a press conference.

Toscano says Zwerner is recovering at home with her family and "gaining strength everyday."

This is breaking news, we will continue to update this article as we learn more.

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